Friday, 24 February 2012

For fans, what is the significance of pre-season testing?

Of course, nobody can question how important pre-season testing is to a Formula One team. It is completely essential that engineers and designers are able to test the complex and groundbreaking machines that they have spent the last four months meticulously designing and building. They need to be assured that when they put that car on the track for the first race of the season it isn't going to vibrate to pieces through the first corner or one of the wings isn't going to change shape at high speed and lose the car crucial seconds.

Similarly, the drivers want to be sure they are comfortable behind the wheel before they set out on to the track in that all important first qualifying session of the season. Sebastien Vettel doesn't want to be getting in to the car, on Saturday morning of the 17th of March in Melbourne, and find that he can't reach the pedals. So, pre-season testing is unquestionably extremely important to the teams, which brings me back to my original question.

Undoubtedly, as fans, we are all extremely excited as we approach the beginning of the new season and any news about F1 is lapped up as we anticipate the first race. But why can't the media be more honest about what pre-season testing means to us, instead of feeding us meaningless conclusions about how specific teams are looking quick for the new season having posted the fastest time, or how a team we expect to do well is looking slow. The pre-season testing is not a qualifying session, in which the drivers and teams are striving for the fastest time. It is the only chance to try out big things (new parts, different fuel levels, tyre and wing combinations, etc. etc....)

For this reason, it is unfair on fans, that the media draw these meaningless conclusions from incomprehensible circumstances. That's not to say that pre-season testing isn't an exciting chance to see the new cars out on track, in action. To take a look at the new design modifications and regulation aero parts, but lets not kid ourselves that when the pre-season testing is finished we will all know who the big contenders are. The fact is that only the teams know that and they aren't going to let on. So we should watch the pre-season testing for what it is and the media should report it as such.